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The Silicon Ideology 

Josephine Armi£tead 
May 18, 2016 


Abstract 

Out of the technological centres of the world has come a new, strange variant of fascism- 
namely, neo-reacftion, or “NRx”. I shall here provide a critique of this ideology and an 
attempt at understanding of its origins, its tadtics, and how it may be defeated. 

Content Warnings 

This article contains discussions of fascism, Nazism, white supremacy, and the Holocaust 
among other topics. 

Keywords 

1 Introduction 

A king? You want a king? Boy, nobody 
wants a king! Ignatius, are you sure 
you’re OK? 

A Confederacy of Dunces 
John Kennedy Toole 

When one learns I am Studying a new emergence of fascism in Europe and North 
America, one might be tempted to believe I am referring to the larger trend of the rise 
of right-wing populiSt parties and candidacies that may be considered “fascist”, such as 
the candidacy of Donald Trump and the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party 
(UKIP), Le Pen’s Front national (FN), Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), and Golden 
Dawn among others. However, in this essay, I discuss a more narrow group: specifically, 
an ideology that has emerged in the paSt decade or so inside the capitals of the tech world 
and which is growing at an alarming rate, often (but not always) allied with those parties 
and candidacies I have mentioned above: neo-reacftionaries and what is known as the “alt- 
right”. Largely, this group has escaped serious criticism by radicals for its nature as a small, 
internet-based ideology-not enough people, it seems, take it seriously. Indeed, some may 
question why I am taking it seriously: clearly, this group is juft “a bunch of nerds” with 
no relation to “the real world” and no influence to speak of: what am I worried about? To 
which I respond thusly: I do not take it for granted that this odd ideology will not grow 
(indeed, it already is growing), I do not believe we should under-eftimate our enemies, 
and moft people severely under-rate the influence of the alt-right, which is, especially in 


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Silicon Valley, already courting influential figures, such as Peter Thiel of PayPal, many of 
whom belong to a particular ideological predecessor of neo-readtionary thought: namely, 
the techno-utopian right-libertarianism pervasive in the tech industry. 

2 On the Various Theoretical Accounts of Fascism and its 
Origins 

In order to understand, neo-readtion, a neo-fasciSt ideology, one muSt too understand fas- 
cism in its firSt flowering. This is harder than it may firSt appear: every theorist and her 
dog has a pet theory of the origins and definitions of fascism, and I do not wish to spend 
this essay deciding which is “beSt”. Perhaps, then, we should merely determine which is 
moSt useful in understanding neo-readtion. Traditionally, fascism has been amorphously 
defined among the Left by the Statement given in 1933 to the 13th meeting of the Enlarged 
Executive of the (Third) Communist International in Moscow: “Fascism is the open ter- 
rorist dictatorship of the moSt reactionary, moSt chauvinistic, moSt imperialist elements 
of finance capital” (H. (2009)): this, though a useful summary, is not useful as a theory. 

2.1 Amadeo Bordiga 

Amadeo Bordiga claimed that fascism was merely another form of bourgeois rule, and 
there was nothing exceptional about it compared to bourgeois democracy or constitutional 
monarchy-indeed, nothing particularly reactionary about it. This theory is exceptionally 
useless, so we shall not consider it any further. 

2.2 Leon Trotsky 

In Trotsky (1944), a poSthumously-published pamphlet made from selections of earlier 
writings (from 1922 to 1940), Leon Trotsky argues that fascism is a specific form of 
counter-revolutionary dictatorship, not all of them. He identifies the social base of fascism 
as the petty-bourgeoisie and “middle class”, as well as the lumpenproletariat. This happens, 
according to Trotsky, when the “normal” repressive apparatus of bourgeois-democracy 
fails to keep a Stable society, and the base of fascism has been dispossessed and brought 
to desparation. Fascism, when in power, begins by destroying workers’ organizations and 
class-consciousness, subjecting the proletariat to an administrative syStem which renders 
the organization of the proletariat quite difficult, to say the leaSt. Trotsky (ibid.) then em- 
barks on an analysis of how the Italian fascists gained power: after World War I, socialists 
had begun to seize one factory after another-all it needed, Trotsky claimed, was to coor- 
dinate. But then the social democrats disrupted the revolutionary action, “sprung back”, 
and withdrew, hoping docile workers would help shift public opinion againSt fascists and 
allow for reform, banking on the support of Victor Emmanuel HI. The fascists then seized 
Bologna and soon gained the backing of Victor Emmanuel III and the haute bourgeoisie. 
At the laSt moment, the social democrats called for a general Strike, but by then it was too 
late. Within two years, Mussolini was in power, and began to create a bureaucracy and 
military dictatorship. Germany soon followed the same model: indeed, in 1932, Trotsky 
notes how the reformists have Started to rely on-and put their faith in-the government 
(now ruled by a series of chancellors installed through emergency decrees: Briining, von 
Papen, von Schleicher) to put down fascism. This is especially frustrating for Trotsky, as 
he notes that these same conditions could-and should-propel forth a revolutionary party. 


2 



Trotsky then criticises the Comintern policy of “social-fascism” and calls for a United 
Front with a well-organized militia. In September 1932, Trotsky claims that bourgeois 
rule falls in three stages: Jacobinism at the dawn of capitalism, when the bourgeoisie 
needed revolution; democracy in mature capitalism; and fascism in late capitalism, when 
the bourgeoisie mull “clamp down” further on proletarian revolution. When the bour- 
geoisie begins to decline, it relies on the petty bourgeoisie to keep the proletariat down. 
There are some practical predictive errors with Trotsky’s theory. In 1922, he predicted 
the bourgeoisie would abandon fascism upon defeat of the revolution. In 1938, Trotsky 
advised the Czechoslovakian workers not to resist German invasion, in 1939, supported 
(based on testimonies of Ukrainian emigres ) the creation of an independent Ukraine when 
Germany had targeted Ukraine as part of its lebensraum, and in 1940 predicted that World 
War 2 would end either in world-revolution or world-fascism. 

2.3 Marxism-Leninism-Maoism 

In H. (2009), it is argued (by a person identified only as “Scott H.”) that: 


1. Fascism is one of the two major forms of bourgeois class rule, the other being 
bourgeois democracy. There are no primary differences, but there are secondary dif- 
ferences: namely, in bourgeois democracy, there is qualitatively more freedom to 
openly express opinions, protest, and organize, regardless of whether or not there 
are “elections”: the “democratic” part of bourgeois democracy, being largely limited 
to the bourgeoisie, is irrelevant 

2. Whether or not a regime is fascist is determined by how the bourgeoisie exerts its 
dictatorship over other classes: what freedoms are the proletariat (not merely other 
bourgeois parties) allowed (however temporarily) to exert? 

3. How the regime treats revolutionaries and revolutionary parties (along with the mil- 
itant mass movements they lead) is especially key in determining whether a regime 
is fascist or not 

4. The role of terrorism: both bourgeois democracy and fascism rely on terrorism, but 
fascism is much more terroristic than bourgeois democracy 

3. Fascism and bourgeois democracy are theoretical extremes or archetypes: all bour- 
geois regimes have elements of both types 

6. Regimes can be classified as either fascist or bourgeois democratic based on which 
theoretical archetype they approximate more closely 

7. Laws or actions of a bourgeois State can be categorized as fasciff if they correspond 
to the actions of the fascist theoretical archetype and if they occur in a regime overall 
categorized as fascist 

8. It is possible for a bourgeois State to rule in different ways in different areas (and at 
different times), so it is possible for a State to be fascist in one area and a bourgeois- 
democracy in another area 


3 



9. Bourgeois democracy is unstable and fascism is virtually inevitable under bourgeois 
rule, especially as the bourgeoisie faces a crisis or nears its overthrow 

io. Struggle against fascist policies and laws of a bourgeois democracy is a struggle for 
reforms (though not necessarily reformism) 

Two points are then made regarding historical MarxiSt-LeniniSt approaches to fascism. 
FirSt, the Third International was in error in the 1930s when it recommended to the KPD 
not to form a (temporary) unified front againSt the Nazis with the SPD-but was also in 
error when, after the Nazis took power in 1933, they promoted a United Front AgainSt Fas- 
cism which called on socialist parties to so closely ally with bourgeois-democratic parties 
(like the SPD) that they became reformists themselves, glorifying bourgeois-democracy- 
hollowing out the revolutionary core of such a party. Secondly, revisionist States (like 
the USSR under Khrushchev) are “social-fasciSt”-i.e. fascist, being repressive bourgeois 
States. Two case Studies are presented: the US is diagnosed as a bourgeois-democratic 
State with elements of fascism, and India is diagnosed as semi-fasciSt and growing towards 
fascism (particularly in its treatment of the adivasis and the Naxalites, who are both re- 
pressed under the UAPA and “Operation Green Hunt” with child soldiers in paramilitary 
death-squads similar to the Freikorps such as Chhattisgarh’s Salwa Judum and Bihar’s Ran- 
vir Sena). 

As we see, this gives an account of what fascism is (though in general terms), but very 
little of where it comes from, how it may be fought, &c &c (this is acknowledged in the 
essay)-except that bourgeois democracy often transforms into fascism during periods of 
instability, crisis, or overthrow. 

2.4 Walter Benjamin 

Walter Benjamins account of fascism relied on a concept known as the aeStheticization of 
politics developed in his influential 1936 essay Das Kunttwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen 
Reproduzierbarkeit, among others. Indeed, in Benjamin (1936), we see the following pas- 
sage: 


The masses have a right to changed property relations; fascism seeks to give 
them expression in keeping these relations unchanged. The logical outcome of 
fascism is an effheticizing of political life 

What does this mean? To understand it, we muSt understand it in its context. According 
to Benjamin (though this notion is not exclusive to him), fascism blocks and diverts the 
energies that otherwise would be used to form a revolution againSt capitalism-it fills the 
void provided by an unsuccessful or non-exiStent revolution, and muSt be understood from 
this perspective. To put it succinctly with a Benjamin quote: “Behind every fascism, there 
lies a failed revolution”. It offers the emotional release of a revolution while effecting no 
material change-and the production of this catharsis is easily seen in the propaganda of 
the era. 

If fascism implies the aeStheticization of politics, Benjamin reasons, it muSt be related to the 
traditional Marxist notion of commodity fetishism. Indeed, fascism presents, according 
to Benjamin, the promise of revolution, a Strong, self-reliant, and harmonious State &c 
as a commodity. In order to maintain the fascist movement and control over the intense 


4 



emotional release it provides while refusing to challenge capitalism, fascism relies on war, 
which also creats enough expenditure to temporarily resolve crises of overproduction, like 
the Great Depression. Benjamin connects the aeStheticization of war with an artiStic- 
political movement in Italy which preceded fascism and whose proponents became fascists: 
Futurism. Futurists celebrated technology, speed, and aggression: and technology is an 
aspeCt of war that is easily aeStheticized. While human suffering is usually omitted in the 
aeStheticization of war, in a fascist mode destruction, too, muSt be aeStheticized, not merely 
edited out. Benjamin, in “Theories of German Fascism” connects this to ErnSt Jtinger’s 
’war for war sake’: Jtinger mySticises war as a magical force, which the State muSt be 
“worthy” of. This, Benjamin claims, derives easily from Jiinger’s experience as an officer, 
not a mere grunt-and indeed, the Nazis saw their firSt support base from disgruntled 
World War I officers, such as Hitler himself-and the Freikorps. 

2.5 Deleuze and Guattari 

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, in their 1972 book Capitalisme et schizophrenic. L’anti- 
CEdipe, reprise an earlier analysis of fascism by Wilhelm Reich in his 1933 work Die 
Massenpsychologie des Faschismus. They argue in Deleuze and Guattari (1972) that fascism 
is created through libidinal and psychological repression through the mechanism of the 
nuclear family, which represses and distorts the desires of the child, making them a docile 
subject that is easily controlled and will submit. The CEdipus complex is seen as arising 
from the familial suppression and distortion of desires: Deleuze and Guattari (ibid.) says: 
“It is in one and the same movement that the repressive social production is replaced by 
the repressing family, and that the latter offers a displaced image of desiring-produCtion 
that represents the repressed as incestuous familial drives.” Deleuze and Guattari can be 
here criticised for using the term “fascism” to refer to this, because it seems to divorce 
fascism from its historical context and from a larger social context: while this may indeed 
be an integral part of fascism, I don’t think we can reduce fascism to this. Deleuze and 
Guattari have anticipated this, and so this repression and distortion of desire on a small 
scale has been termed “microfascism”, as opposed to “macrofascism”. 

2.6 A Unified Theory 

One issue with many, but not all, of the analyses of fascism is that they only consider 
fascism in power, not fascism as an ideology prior to seizure of power. It seems to be 
generally accepted that fascism is a bourgeois ideology that is fundamentally similar to 
bourgeois democracy, taking power when bourgeois democracy finds itself unstable and 
in crisis. Another issue arises, related to the firSt: as many definitions seem limited to 
“bourgeois democracy, but worse” (this is especially true of the M-L-M definition), they 
make it hard to create a clear difference between bourgeois democracy and fascism: for, 
is the US not engaged in intense terrorism both domestically and across the globe-and 
has this not been the case since its inception? Here the BordigiSt (a true resident of the 
Grand Hotel Abyss of Lukacs) may smugly claim that this is because there is precisely 
no difference, but I would like us to smack the BordigiSt across the head, for this im- 
pulse of erasing differences in order to make false equivalences is dangerous indeed. If 
we cannot distinguish fascism from other forms of bourgeois rule, then we should not 
complain when we hear the sound of jackboots marching. I would like to firSt make the 
proposition that fascism is distinguished from other forms of bourgeois rule both by the 


5 



degree of aCtion of its terroristic, repressive apparati but also by the Weltanschauung that 
supports it. Like Benjamin notes, the aeStheticization of war in bourgeois democracy re- 
quires the erasure of human suffering, but under fascism, the aeStheticization of war relies 
upon scenes of destruction. Because fascism relies on war to channel the emotions used to 
aeStheticize politics, it relies on nationalism (justifying war) and class collaboration (what 
in China was the line of two unite in one as opposed to one divides in two, justifying the 
lack of change in property relations). Nationalism relies on essentialism (the idea of an 
eternal, unchangeable inherent nature preceding human exiStance), a form of idealism. It 
is important to note that I am not here positing a timeless, universal Form of fascism, but 
rather a way of understanding characteristics of fascism that would provide its backbone 
and which have mutated into a new form: a fascism of the 2iSt century, which, though 
very different in ways from 20th century fascism (finding its roots in neoliberalism, not 
Victorian liberalism), is clearly derived and indebted to it. 

Here, then, are some diagnostic features that might help understand and recognize fas- 
cism: 

1. Fascism is one of two forms of bourgeois rule, the other being bourgeois democracy. 
There are no primary differences, but there are secondary differences 

2. Fascism emerges in the shadow of a failed revolution; that is, at times when bour- 
geois rule is weak, but a revolution has either failed, been betrayed by centrist, 
“Social Democrat” forces, or, similarly, been foreStalled/delayed: in the latter case, 
the turn to fascism is an attempt to block a revolutionary movement from forming 
or gaining success. 

3. Fascism transforms politics and its promise of revolutionary change into a commodity- 
it thusly ceffheticizes politics, giving the masses the intensity of emotion associated 
with revolutionary change but maintaining an even Stronger devotion to maintain- 
ing bourgeois rule and property-relations 

4. In order to maintain these emotions, fascism constructs a Weltanschauung that 
opportunistically ransacks various philosophies of useful concepts and creates an 
idealistic philosophy that contains nationalism, and class collaboration. 

5. This Weltanschauung provides the ideological support for war, which is the chief way 
in which fascism may continually maintain intense emotional response and control 
them without changing property-relations 

6. War, too, is aeStheticized-but destruction and suffering are not merely edited out, as 
in bourgeois democracy, but glorified. In the course of the seStheticization of war, 
the technology of war is frequently atStheticized as well 

7. Both bourgeois democracy and fascism rely on terrorism, but fascism is more terror- 
istic than bourgeois democracy. The freedoms the proletariat (however temporarily) 
are allowed to exert are larger in bourgeois democracy 

8. Fascism and bourgeois democracy are theoretical extremes or archetypes: all bour- 
geois regimes have elements of both types. The seeds of fascism are in bourgeois 
democracy: nevertheless, the two can be distinguished. 


6 



9. Bourgeois democracy is unstable, and as the bourgeois regime faces a crisis or its 
overthrow, the bourgeoisie will turn to fascism in order to block the emergence of 
a successful revolutionary movement 

io. Fascism relies on the exploitation of “microfascisms” (the repression and distortion 
of desiring-produdtion by units and institutions such as the nuclear family) among 
the populace to create docile subjects that desire their own repression. 

3 A History of 20th Century Fascism 

3.1 The Ideological Influences upon Fascism 

Fascists claim many influences, Stretching back to ancient times. Hitler and Ioannis 
Metaxas both idolized the Spartans under Lycurgus, understood through Karl Muller’s 
Die Dorier, an essentialiSt fantasia about the history of the Dorians. Mussolini preferred 
Plato, but apart from that, sought to conned: Fascist Italy with Imperial Rome, idolizing 
Julius Caesar and Augustus. From then, we see the emphasis on the State and absolutism 
in Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Hegel. The tradition of essentialiSt German nationalism be- 
gan with Johann Gottfried Herder, and was quickly used for anti-Semitic ends. Fascism 
rejedts the French Revolution and its legacy, though learns from its methods. Influences 
from this era include Johann Gottlieb Fichte, who furthered the projedt of German na- 
tionalism as well as Edmund Burke and Joseph de MaiStre, arch- conservatives. As the 
19th century progressed, liberal ideology, then as now, found inspiration in biology, and 
thus created a capitalist interpretation of biology: Social Darwinism, born from Spencer’s 
reading of Malthus and Darwin (though it owed more, originally, to Lamarck). It only 
took a jump from there to eugenics (a liberal projedt, formulated by Sir Francis Galton 
FRS and supported by Alexander Graham Bell, WinSton Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, 
John Maynard Keynes, Francis Crick, James Watson, and Margaret Sanger: indeed, imple- 
mented firSt in America through compulsory Sterilization, which has not truly ended), and 
this, too, cooperated well with Gobineau’s racialism, creating the liberal ideology of scien- 
tific racism (justifying immigration reStridtion and anti-miscegenation laws among others) 
and its nightmare scenario: degeneration theory, as promoted by Max Nordau in his 1892 
work Degeneration. It is important to emphasize that all of this was well-accepted within 
Anglo-American liberalism: indeed, the firSt eugenics program was created in California. 
Wagner’s aesthetics were the next ingredient in the Fascist soup, as was the essentialiSt 
psychology of GuStave Le Bon, who argued that white men were essentially superior to 
women and people of colour-this, too, has resurfaced in the field of evolutionary psy- 
chology and the book The Bell Curve. Nietzsche’s rhetoric inspired the fascists, with an 
attack on colledtivism, the concept of the Ubermensch, and the recuperation of Schopen- 
hauer’s will-to-live as the will-to-power. Henri Bergson’s “elan vital” centring around 
free choice allowed a rejedtion of materialism. Gaetano Mosca’s The Ruling Class (1896) 
claimed that in all societies, an organized minority will rule a disorganized majority, and 
that the Strudture of the military is a useful guide to Strudture society, especially due to its 
officer class-presenting the Strudture of the military as a model for civil society: this Mus- 
solini is known to have read. Robert Michels’ theory of the Ehernes Gesetz der Oligarchie 
(iron law of oligarchy) claimed that democracy would inevitably lead to bureaucratization, 
hierarchy, and oligarchy-this, too, became useful for fascists. Maurice Barres’ ethnic na- 
tionalism was combined with an appeal to patriotism, militarism, charismatic leadership 


7 



and a hero myth. Mikhail Bakunin’s concept of propaganda of the deed and diredt ac- 
tion would go on to influence fascist tadtics and propaganda. Georges Sorel’s anarchism 
promoted nationalism, the power of myth, and “moral regeneration”. Charles Maurras, 
a readtionary, showed interest in Sorel’s syndicalism: Enrico Corradini did the work of 
merging it with right-wing nationalism: speaking of Italy as essentially a “proletarian na- 
tion” which needed to engage in imperialism to challenge Britain and France, and needed 
to rejedt democracy, liberalism, Marxism, internationalism, and pacifism-promoting vio- 
lence, heroism, and vitalism instead. This was furthered by the artistic-political movement 
of Futurism. 

What we see here is an idealistic liberal idea of science and progress justifying a deeply 
readtionary social Strudture, which itself learns tadtics from its leftist enemies. 

3.2 The Interwar Period 

World War I was formative for fascism, and the period immediately following it was ripe 
ground for fascists, making their firSt gains through Jozef Pilsudski’s military takeover of 
Poland during the 1918-20 Polish-Soviet war (and later 1926 coup), Benito Mussolini’s 
1922 takeover of Italy, and Hitler’s failed (though useful) 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. The 
general mood was one of pessimism and betrayal; public confidence in finance capital was 
at an all-time low. Surely, this should be fertile ground for the Revolution, should it not? 
Indeed it was, as seen through the Odtober Revolution in Russia, the 1919 revolution in 
Hungary, the briefer-Still Bavarian Soviet Republic, the Biennio Rosso of Italy, the Seattle 
General Strike of 1919, and the Spartacus Uprising in Germany. None of these revolutions 
except for the Odtober Revolution laSted for more than two years. What happened? Let 
us take Italy and Germany as models. In Italy, as Trotsky has related above, whatever gains 
workers had made through agitation were erased by the reformists, who thought that a 
more moderate, peaceful approach was necessary in order to maintain “public opinion”: 
soon, the workers were in retreat and the fascists took over. In Germany, the Spartacus 
Uprising was crushed by the Social Democrats, who enlisted the help of the readtionary 
Freikorps paramilitaries that would later form the basis of the SA and SS. In both cases, 
the centrist, moderate, reformist, even liberal elements of the left-Social Democrats-got 
cold feet and betrayed and violently suppressed a revolutionary movement before its prime 
in favor of a “business-as-usual” reformist negotiation with finance capital. The conceding 
of the Left and its engagement in politics-as-usual allowed fascism to portray itself as the 
ideology of syStemic change (aeStheticizing radical politics). 

4 Neo-Reaction and its Historical and Discursive Origins 

Whoever is not prepared to talk about 
capitalism should also remain silent 
about fascism 

Max Horkheimer 

We have discussed historical fascism at length. What then is neo-readtion? Neo- 
readtion is a 2iSt century variant of fascism: a new ideology that values Stability, or- 
der, efficiency, and “good governance” above all, or claims to. The adtual beliefs of moSt 



neo-readtionaries are somewhat varied, but the core beliefs, as summed up by the neo- 
readtionary Anissimov are (paraphrased): (i) a rejedtion of equality, (2) a commitment 
to right-wing politics, (3) a commitment to hierarchy, (4) a commitment to traditional 
sex roles, (3) a rejedtion of libertarianism, and (6) a rejedtion of democracy. Obviously, 
this is somewhat vague, and the commonalities do indeed go further than these six points. 
Thus, here is a perhaps more comprehensive lidt of the backbone of neo-readtionary values: 


1. Transhumanism and faith in the power of technology as a means towards other ends. 

2. An authoritarian form of government. In more “moderate” or “reasonable” forms, 
this takes the form of running the country as a joint-dock corporation (this, for ex- 
ample, is Moldbugs position), which is well within the norm of neoliberal thought. 
This, however, blends into calling for monarchy and aristocracy in more “extreme” 
variants (if we can classify them as “moderate” and “extreme”), with the ruler usually 
in either case being either a tech CEO (with several proposals being floated to make 
Eric Schmidt or Elon Musk or Peter Thiel “CEO of America”) or a super-intelligent 
machinic mind. The neo-readtionaries hope to be the aristocrats, or, sometimes, 
monarchs of their own in a patchwork of principalities somewhat reminiscent of 
the Holy Roman Empire. 

3. The belief in a “Cathedral”, similar to the role ideology plays in Leftist theory, but 
one that pushes progressive ends (feminism, multiculturalism, democracy, equality)- 
and a hostility towards this “Cathedral” 

4. White (or, less frequently, EaSt Asian, or, Still less frequently, South Asian) nation- 
alism, accompanied by scientific racism, eugenics, social Darwinism, degeneration 
theory, biological determinism, and a belief that ethnic uniformity increases so- 
cial capital. Very frequently accompanied with anti-Semitism and the anti-Semitic 
canards of the early 20th century. AlmoSt always accompanied with Islamophobia. 

3. Faith in the Austrian School of Economics, or, less frequently, its more respedtable’, 
less obviously astrological, cousin the Chicago School 

6. Extreme misogyny based in evolutionary psychology, the adtive promotion of rape- 
Stemming from this belief in traditional gender roles, extreme homophobia and 
transphobia 

7. Cultural touchstones in war-based video games and tabletop games (such as the 
Imperium in Warhammer 40,000) along with “The Matrix” (a movie, ironically, 
written and diredted by two trans women partially about gender theory-one, in any 
case, that the NRx-ers have unfortunately dinged on to in bad readings) 

8. Among the less academic, an obsession with cuckoldry and the use of mass harass- 
ment tadtics (death threats, rape threats, DDoS, doxxing, swatting, misinformation 
campaigns &c) to silence enemies 

There are two poles within neo-readtion, the “academic” pole, exemplified in LessWrong 
and the blogs of the main theorists of the movement (Unqualified Reservations, More 


9 



Right, Outside In), and the “alt-right” pole, exemplified in 4chan (especially the /pol/ 
board), 8chan, My Porting Career, and The Right Stuff The two poles meet on Red- 
dit, Twitter, and Tumblr, among other sites. In addition, neo-readtionary ideas are quite 
common in Silicon Valley, though often without explicit allegiance to its theory, as can be 
seen in the statements of Peter Thiel and Balaji Srinivasan, among others. 


4.1 What is Transhumanism? 

Transhumanism, for many, seems to be the part of neo-readtionary ideology that “Sticks 
out” from the reSt. Indeed, some wonder how neo-readtionaries and transhumaniSts would 
ever mix, and why I am discussing LessWrong in the context of neo-readtionary beliefs. 
For the laSt question, this is because LessWrong served as a convenient “incubation centre” 
so to speak for neo-readtionary ideas to develop and spread for many years, and the goals 
of LessWrong: a friendly super-intelligent AI ruling humanity for its own good, was fun- 
damentally compatible with existing neo-readtionary ideology, which had already begun 
developing a futurist orientation in its infancy due, in part, to its historical and cultural 
influences. The reSt of the question, however, is not juSt historical, but theoretical: what 
is transhumanism and why does it mix well with a readtionary ideology? 


Transhumanism I define to be a colledtion of movements aimed at improving and en- 
hancing humanity through technological means. AlmoSt immediately, we see a precursor, 
and one which influenced the previous readtionary ideology of 20th century fascism: eu- 
genics. But let us not tar all transhumanism with eugenics, though it muSt carry its 
historical burthen. Transhumanism firSt gained currency in 1990, though it had been de- 
veloping from eugenics since the end of the Second World War, often through the medium 
of science-fidtion. In 1965, the notion of technological singularity was developed: of course, 
the concept of artificial intelligence had been developing earlier. Organized groups of tran- 
shumaniSts began to gather at UCLA in the early 1980s, many of whom would subscribe 
to the “Third Way” of the 1990s (not to be confused with third positionism, another word 
for fascism) and thus become either centrists, others, Stemming from the Extropians who 
formed in 1988, were libertarians. As seen in the disputes in 2006 at the World Tran- 
shumaniSt Association and from the ideologies of the Extropians, the libertarians largely 
did not see the necessity of universalism for a transhumaniSt projedt: they thus were com- 
fortable with a class syStem being Strengthened by transhumanism-indeed, reinforced it 
through the idea of meritocracy. They, too, were more comfortable with the eugenics 
programs of old, now largely framed (as then) through ableism: preventing “liabilities” 
(moStly disabled and neurodivergent people, though the more homophobic and transpho- 
bic element are looking for biological bases for gay-ness and trans-ness to include them 
here, and racists of course include people of colour) as opposed to “assets” from being 
born. This of course is a refledtion of the fadt that both the eugenics of old and the right- 
transhumanism (if we can call it that, as opposed to left-transhumanism, which seems 
largely limited to left-accelerationiSts) have applied liberal bourgeois ideology (one might 
point in particular to utilitarianism). Perhaps now it is clearer how transhumanism-more 
specifically, right-transhumanism fits here. 


10 



4.2 The Historical Origins of Neo-Reaction 

In order to understand the historical origins of neo-reaCtion, we muSt look at the compo- 
sition of the neo-readtionaries. That is: what brought them to neo-readtion? What were 
their interests and beliefs prior to neo-readtion? Through this, we can identify several 
moments at which it became what it is today. Perhaps the moSt obvious moment is one 
of the moSt recent: GamerGate, a mass harassment campaign transformed into a mob, 
ready-made to harass women online who dare to speak. But undoubtedly, neo-readtion is 
older than GamerGate, and it is harder to identify easy “moments” by which discrete but 
similar groups merged under the banner of the alt-right, though the movements them- 
selves can be discerned. Thus, I’ll take a different approach. 


We ftart now in Albequerque, New Mexico in 1976 with Bill Gates’ “Open Letter to 
Hobbyists”. This is an arbitrary starting point, but it is convenient for our purpose. The 
hobbyist and hacker cultures had a largely communal atmosphere, with sharing and copy- 
ing being accepted and, indeed, expedted. While computers had been (in part, at lead) 
a commercial venture since their birth, this was one of the firfr times it (successfully) 
emerged from the hacker and hobbyist cultures and threatened that communal atmo- 
sphere. Gates appealed to the value created by labor and the co£t of machine time (which, 
Hal Singer noted, was paid for by Harvard, funded by the US Government, in the case 
of Altair Basic), but used that to argue for copyright enforcement and commodification. 
Another process was happening at this time: the creation of the personal computer. This 
happened in fits and frarts throughout the 1970s, but only began to succeed in 1981 when 
the IBM Pc was released, paired with Microsoft’s Ms-dos (bought from Tim Paterson’s 
86-dos, a rebranded Qdos, copied from CP/M, inspired by Tops-io...)-soon, comput- 
ers became a mass market. The final gasps of the old hacker culture were breathed in 
1983 when its hallowed home, the Mit Ai Lab, was virtually destroyed by the creation 
of Symbolics, a Lisp Machine startup which did not share its code, leaving only Richard 
Stallman, who would found Gnu . 1 The coffin was nailed in by the breakup of At&t, 
which allowed the resulting company to make Unix, a widely-used (if generally consid- 
ered of bad quality) operating system by virtue of its portability, the simplicity of its code 
(at the expense of legibility), and the free nature of the codebase, into a commodity. All 
that was left was now a startup culture, and startups relied on a hierarchical, dictatorial 
model. 


Now let us skip to the 1990s. In 1991, we have our firft snippet of the political writ- 
ings of the man who would later found neo-readtion, Curtis Yarvin (later to be known as 
Mencius Moldbug)-a message to the Usenet group talk, politics . soviet (drudged 
up in Pein (2014)), speculating over Gorbachev’s role in the August Coup (Yarvin claiming 
that Gorbachev was indeed behind it, manipulating the Gang of Eight into a trap that ul- 
timately he and Yeltsin would benefit from)-and already, we see the seeds of neo-readtion: 
“But I wonder if the Soviet power ladder of vicious bureaucratic backbiting brings stronger 
men to the top than the American system of feel-good soundbites.” Yarvin would soon 
leave writing to make money in the firfr dot-com bubble; we shall see more of him later. 

Ho learn more about this period, I recommend Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy 


11 



In 1990, Eric S. Raymond emerged, taking over the Jargon File, a cornerstone of the old 
hacker culture that died in 1983. Raymond is a libertarian; Stallman is a social democrat. 
In 1998 Raymond piggybacked off of Stallmans concept of free software to create a version 
more appealing for corporations: open source. From this, and from his maintenance of 
the Jargon File, Raymond began to play a brief, though influential, role in Silicon Valley 
culture, which, due to the proliferation of Startups suddenly gaining money in the dot-com 
bubble and to the normalization of neoliberalism under Clinton, was especially receptive 
to techno-libertarianism. His 1997 essay is of particular interest, for here can be seen 
the origin of the neo-readtionary term “Cathedral”-it is in the title of Raymond’s essay 
“The Cathedral and the Bazaar”, though the meaning was somewhat different, referring 
in Raymond’s essay to a centralized model of software development. We should not see 
Raymond as the source of techno-libertarianism as much as its moSt influential exponent 
at the time, for it was already growing in Usenet as well as in the Bay, and would soon 
spread to one of the earliest social news sites, Slashdot. 


Let us, for a moment, move out of the tech world and into the political material they 
may have been reading. In 1994, Richard J. HerrnStein and Charles Murray released The 
Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Strudure in American Life, a pseudo-scientific work that 
had the effedt of making blatant (as opposed to implied) scientific racism respedtable again 
amongst the white professional population. The second edition of The Mismeasure of Man 
was written in opposition, but it was too late: The Bell Curve had made the case to pass the 
1994 crime bill and “end welfare as we know it” to the American populace, and the readtion 
againSt it allowed the authors to feign persecution through the all-powerful term “political 
corredtness”. We shall see this again later in the NRx predisposition towards Rothbard, 
an ardent defender of The Bell Curve. Evolutionary psychology, a darling of the media and 
a field used to prop up patriarchy, was also read by the future NRxers: to know this, we 
need only look at Eliezer Yudkowsky’s 2000 autobiography, where he mentions it. In 1993, 
ministers from EaSt and Southeast Asian countries adopted the Bangkok Declaration, and 
this, combined with the narrative of the “Four Asian Tigers” (Hong Kong, Singapore, 
South Korea, Taiwan) and the rhetoric of Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir Mohamed, helped 
create the myth of “Asian values” (neoliberal free-market economics, a Confucian cul- 
tural heritage, predisposition towards an authoritarian one-party government, rule of law, 
preference for social harmony over personal freedoms, a Protestant work ethic, frugality, 
and loyalty), a sort of Confucian version of Weber’s glorification of the ProteStant work 
ethic. Despite the 1997 Asian financial crisis, libertarians and their respedtable publica- 
tions (such as The Economic) continued to fawn over Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew, whose 
reign can be seen as a prototype for the NRx-ers: one that embraced eugenics to maintain 
the supremacy of the Chinese relative to the Indians and the Malays, ruled by a single 
party, with little crime (as even the moSt minor infradtions, such as chewing gum, are 
punished harshly, often with caning), and a rich financial industry, with the city operating 
an investment firm (whose CEO, Ho Ching, is the wife of didtator Lee Hsien Loong) 
whose portfolio is rougly equal to the city’s GDP. 15 years later, the libertarian fawning 
over the Four Asian Tigers would be repeated, but instead over Qatar and the United Arab 
Emirates, especially Dubai. I can speak to this firsthand, as I know many people who do 
this. 


12 



Let us also discuss the pre-millennium cultural influences on the alt-right. To under- 
stand their background, we muSt understand the Dark Age of Comic Books, which began 
in 1986 with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Both 
had a significantly darker approach to comic books than previously told, and the intellec- 
tual depth of both earned them much acclaim from critics and readers alike. The people 
who would later become the alt-right embraced Miller’s right-wing, misogyniStic politics 
and identified with Rorschach in Watchmen, a paleoconservative conspiracy theorist who 
was Alan Moore’s caricature of “Batman in the real world”. Indeed, the director of the 
movie, Zack Snyder, a libertarian himself, said that “no character” was more important 
than Rorschach, and Rorschach was “one of the greatest comic book characters”. Snyder 
is an interesting case Study: the movies he has directed (leaning heavily on Frank Miller’s 
version of Batman) have been criticised for their aggressive masculinity as a matter of taSte, 
but not in the political context of fascism. It’s quite illuminating to notice that when the 
Christopher Nolan Batman films (generally considered very dark) came out in the late 
2000s, Snyder was of the opinion that they were not dark enough ! In 1988, Moore would 
write V for Vendetta: despite Moore’s and the comic’s leftist themes, its aesthetics were 
pilfered by the people who would become NRx-ers, who had fashioned themselves at this 
time as anarcho-capitaliSts. In the same year, The Killing Joke came out. This fed into the 
1990s “tough on crime” outlook, and the comic books of the 1990s would lack any of the 
depth of The Dark Knight Returns or Watchmen, instead being a mere monument to mas- 
culinity and male violence. Another science-fiCtion movement whose aesthetics would be 
appropriated despite left-wing politics was cyberpunk: especially the movie The Matrix. 
In 1987, Games Workshop released Warhammer 40,000, whose tagline was “In the grim 
darkness of the far future, there is only war”. The aesthetics of war and its technology thus 
become commodified, especially through the lens of the Imperium of Man faction, which 
was a theocratic regime ruled by the immortal God-Emperor of Mankind. This can be 
seen as the moSt obvious example of a larger trend of the aesthetics of war, destruction, and 
the technology of war being embraced by this culture, one that would accelerate with the 
creation of the firSt-person shooter with Wolfenklein jD and Doom, and its progression 
through Quake and Half-Life. I’d argue that this was changed during the Millennium, 
so I muSt end discussion of that genre here. In 1997, South Park began to air: its crude 
humor, vulgar libertarianism (with a smug conceit that those who didn’t agree were merely 
idiots), and accusation of opponents of “political correctness” and censorship were to be a 
formative influence on the alt-right, whose firSt name was “South Park Republicans”. 


In 2000, Usenet’s culture fragments and migrates to the World Wide Web. The Big 
Eight’s culture moved successively to Slashdot, Digg, Reddit, and Hacker News. The 
alt . * hierarchy would in 2003 find its own hive: qchan. In 2000, the collaborative tran- 
shumaniCt science-fiCtion world-building project Orion’s Arm was founded. This can be 
seen to be the source of many of the NRx-er’s future visions: AI god-kings ( archaileds ) 
beyond the comprehensions of humanity controlling miniature universes of their own. 
And in July of 2000, Eliezer Yudkowsky founded the Singularity Institute for Artificial 
Intelligence (SLAI). 


13 



In 2001, on the anniversary of the CIA-backed coup in Chile, the US had an event it 
could exploit much as the Reichstag fire was exploited. The USA PAT RIOT aCt was soon 
passed, and though some objected, the various organs of the Beltway media produced a 
consensus that suspension of various personal freedoms was necessary in order to preserve 
Americas sense of security. In doing so, and in selling the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 
the US relied upon the creation and propagation of extreme Islamophobia. Frequently, 
this was backed with the power of Evangelical ProteStantism. But, as was soon seen, it 
didn’t have to be: in fadt, it could come from a source vehemently opposed, at leaSt rhetor- 
ically, to Evangelical ProteStantism. 


If one looked at the history of analytic philosophy through the 20 th century, one might 
think that positivism had been dead and buried. If one looks now at the world-view of 
scientists and engineers not well versed in this hiStory-or indeed, in anything outside their 
field of Study-one would conclude that positivism is alive in well, though in a vulgarized 
form, and Popper did not kill but rather rejuvenated it. It is this vulgar positivism that 
created its own movement to justify Islamophobia in 2004: the New Atheists. With their 
vulgar positivism (generally derived from John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell, and Karl 
Popper), they declared themselves atheists, that religion was inherently evil and violent 
(and Islam especially so), and began to use religion as the measure of all evils: everything 
that was bad or wrong was somehow because of religion or analogous to religion. This 
movement was led by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher 
Hitchens. We muSt emphasize that this movement did not, however, begin in 2004: if 
we can identify a moment where it began, it was the 1997 Sokal affair, where continen- 
tal philosophy and especially feminism were ridiculed as “bullshit” for its methodology, 
jargon, and perceived intrusion into matters of science-earlier antecedents can be seen in 
the patriarchal, racist beliefs of Crick and Watson, who Stole their only discovery of note 
from Rosalind Franklin. This affair permanently marred the New AtheiSt, making him 
hostile to leftism in all forms, and especially feminism. The methodology of science was 
seen, then, as the only legitimate means of accessing truth, and among many of their 
followers Bayes’ theorem in particular was idolized. Morality was utilitarianism, one that 
would always bite the bullet and which never considered any alternative worth considering 
(after all, utilitarianism contained the implicit promise of quantifying morality, reducing 
it to a simple optimization problem, one which the New AtheiSts had, in their scientific 
education, been trained like dogs to solve and to crave). New Atheism was to profoundly 
influence the culture of LessWrong, Reddit, and 4chan, providing the core beliefs and 
arguments of them. 


In 2008, Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency-indeed, the canonical example of a cryptocurrency, 
was invented. It quickly found currency among the libertarians, who were preparing an on- 
line campaign to eleCt Ron Paul president. Many of these libertarians had their economic 
background in the “thought” of the Austrian School of Economics, and so swarmed to Bit- 
coin as an alternative to their other proposal, returning to the gold standard. As long as 
Bitcoin looked stable and interesting, libertarianism could retain a measure of respectabil- 
ity, and could use it as a tool to recruit more libertarians. The influence of the Austrian 
School (earlier members of whom, such as Ludwig von Mises, wrote approvingly of the 


14 



original Nazis) upon libertarians grew in the wake of the financial crisis, as its intellectual 
nephew the Chicago School was too closely tied with the crisis and thus not respectable in 
their eyes (though it remains respectable, it seems, in the Beltway and in Brussells). Along 
with it came the influence of Murray Rothbard, who rejected the Enlightenment notion 
of equality (and thus, implicitly, Enlightenment-derived progressive movements)-indeed, 
Rothbard advocated for the repeal of the 1964 Civil Rights ACt, the overturning of Brown v. 
Board of Education, and spoke in praise of The Bell Curve, championed Holocauft-denier 
Harry Elmer Barnes, child labour, a harsh and retributive theory of justice, torture, and 
feudalism. This would later be fertile ground for the influence of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, 
a proto-neo-reaCtionary if there ever was one, who is now largely known for providing 
libertarians the path towards advocating for reactionary beliefs: previously, many would 
go through paleolibertarianism and paleoconservatism firft. 


In 2006, Eliezer Yudkowsky began collaborating with George Mason University (funded 
by ExxonMobil, the Koch brothers, and the Cato Institute) economist Robin Hanson on 
the blog Overcoming Bias. This would later be the basis for LessWrong, a community blog 
for Overcoming Bias and run under the umbrella of SIAI, now known as MIRI (Machine 
Intelligence Research Institute). The initial audience for LessWrong were fellow transhu- 
manifts, including the Extropians and SL4 mailing lifts. In 2007, Curtis Yarvin ftarted 
the firft neo-reaCtionary blog, Unqualified Reservations under the pseudonym Mencius 
Moldbug, though he did not call himself, initially, “neo-reaCtionary”: he preferred to 
call himself a “formalift” or a “neocameralift” (after his hero, Frederick the Great). This, 
however, was not the beginning of his blogging career. Prior to founding his own blog, 
Moldbug commented on 2Blowhards and GNXP (a racift site) as “Mencius”-and then on 
Overcoming Bias. The reft of this paragraph is largely derived from Pein (2014). In 2009, 
Moldbug had a falling-out with Patri Friedman (grandson of Milton Friedman), who called 
for “a more politically correct dark enlightenment” and began raising money for the Seaft- 
eading Inftitute, a libertarian project to build artificial islands outside of national borders 
where libertarians could govern. PayPal’s founder, Peter Thiel, is funding the Seafteading 
Inftitute, as well as the various ftartups run by Moldbug and Balaji Srinivasan. In that 
same year, Thiel wrote in an essay for the Cato Inftitute: “I no longer believe that freedom 
and democracy are compatible” (in the same essay, he claimed that democracy was ruined 
when (white) women got the right to vote in 1920): while this never mentioned Moldbug 
or neo-reaftion, it sent the signal that he is an NRx-er. He expounded upon these beliefs 
in a 2012 leCture at Stanford: 


A ftartup is basically ftruCtured as a monarchy. We don’t call it that, of 
course. That would seem weirdly outdated, and anything that’s not democ- 
racy makes people uncomfortable. We are biased toward the democratic- 
republican side of the speftrum. That’s what were used to from civics classes. 

But the truth is that ftartups and founders lean toward the dictatorial side 
because that ftruCture works better for ftartups. 

He doesn’t, of course, claim that this would be a good way to rule a country, but that is 
the clear message sent by his political projects. Balaji Srinivasan made a similar rhetorical 


15 



move, using clear neo-readtionary ideas without mentioning their sources, in a 2013 speech 
to a “startup school” affiliated with Y Combinator: 


We want to show what a society run by Silicon Valley would look like. That’s 
where“exit” comes in .... It basically means: build an opt-in society, 
ultimately outside the US, run by technology. And this is actually where the 
Valley is going. This is where we re going over the next ten years . . . [Google 
co-founder] Larry Page, for example, wants to set aside a part of the world 
for unregulated experimentation. That’s carefully phrased. He’s not saying, 

“take away the laws in the U.S.” If you like your country, you can keep it. 

Same with Marc Andreessen: “The world is going to see an explosion of 
countries in the years ahead — doubled, tripled, quadrupled countries.” 

Later in the speech, as Pein (2014) notes, Srinivasan went through the whole gamut of 
neo-readtionary ideas: Bitcoin, corporate city-States, 3D-printed firearms: anti-democratic 
transhumanism 


Aside from the backing of Silicon Valley, neo-readtion grew immensely outside of its 
Bay Area base in the wake of the financial crisis, and intensified as all that the liberal 
establishment could offer was a $700 billion bailout to a crooked financial industry which 
ought to have been destroyed and “auSterity”: neoliberalism’s neweSt excuse by which to 
destroy the welfare State, making life nigh-impossible for Students, the disabled, and the 
poor. Right-wing media blamed teachers and immigrants, but the Left was Strangely 
silent. The only popular counter-narrative was the centrist one, which called for every- 
one to “come together” and all sorts of other liberal claptrap nonsense. The Left indeed 
made some gains, but Occupy Wall Street, by virtue of lacking a coherent goal or a van- 
guard party, fell apart-and left-wing parties, like Syriza, quickly sold out and implemented 
the poisonous “medicine” of the IMF and European Central Bank. Reinhart-Rogoff was 
shown later to be full of lies, but it was too late: auSterity had come and would not be 
Stopped. The centre claimed to have solved the problem, that a “recovery” was underway, 
but no one believes their lies anymore: youth unemployment is Still up, income inequal- 
ity is Still up, and wage growth hasn’t budged. As a result of decades of leftists holding 
their nose and affiliating with centrists, the Left was unable to organize into a Strong 
independent revolutionary organization or come up with a compelling counter-narrative 
againSt the soporofics of centrism. The biggeSt beneficiary politically was then the neo- 
readtionaries. 


In 2012, the NRx-ers gained what at firSt may seem an unlikely ally: the continen- 
tal philosopher Nick Land, once of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (Ccru) at the 
University of Warwick before he resigned (his work was in a vein similar to that of Eugene 
Thacker and Thomas Ligotti), moved to Shanghai, and began a rightwards turn. Land 
began writing a series of articles called “The Dark Enlightenment ’’-another name for neo- 
readtionaries-and then a blog Outside In. 


16 



But all of this is ignoring the “alt-right” side of the culture. Let us, then, delve into the 
wretched hive of chan culture and see how it birthed the alt-right. 4chan was founded by 
Christopher Poole, then 13 years old, under the name “moot”. It was based on the Japanese 
imageboard Futuba Channel (zchan) and originally intended as an imageboard for discus- 
sion of anime. By default, users would be afford anonymity, and moderation was lax, only 
prohibiting clearly illegal content, upon the nature of which I shall not elaborate (and even 
that was given leeway). Originally (and, to an extent, today) 4chan had several cultures 
based on the board in particular and its topic of discussion. However, the anonymity and 
lack of moderation made its userbase quickly homogenize, especially in the random (/ b/) 
board: shock-value centric humor (which, though originally supposedly ironic, in the vein 
of the use of fascist imagery by punk, metal, and industrial bands, quickly became earnest) 
and surrounding racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia was the centrepiece of 
the culture, and so the userbase quickly became limited to young white cis Straight men, 
who could show their investment in Structures of power. This made 4chan an excellent 
place for recruitment by white supremacists, patriarchs, &c &c, who at this time were 
centred on David Duke’s website Stormfront, who quickly took over the boards /news/ 
and, later, /pol/. Furthermore, this culture lended itself easily to rage againSt “uppity” 
members of marginalized populations. With large numbers of anonymous masses who 
could easily be whipped into a rage, 4chan developed new harassment taCtics. MoSt of 
these developed out of old troll techniques that originated on Usenet in the 1990s, but 
now instead of merely being used “for laughs” (though this was Still the Stated intention), 
these were largely weaponized againSt marginalized people in raids. In 2014, the biggeSt 
example of this occured with the debacle known as GamerGate. In order to understand 
that, we muSt remember that traditionally in America, video games had been marketed 
to the audience that was likely to use 4chan, and engaged in the aeStheticization of war 
and technology-but women, people of colour, and LGBT people always had played games 
and were a quickly growing audience for video games. Thus, in recent years, games that 
did not feature or emphasize the aeStheticization of war and technology, or the objecti- 
fication of women had grown in popularity and critical acclaim, much to the displeasure 
of the “traditional” audience of video games, who had called for serious critique not ten 
years prior in an attempt to legitimize their hobby (for this, see their engagement with 
the late Roger Ebert on the topic) but seemed unable to square with the ramifications of 
critique: they wanted legitimacy but not criticism, especially not social criticism, and they 
especially wanted to limit the demographics of video game players to themselves, and the 
range of video games made to those that participated heavily in the scftheticization of war 
and technology. 


This was a powder keg waiting to explode: the aCtual incident which ignited it is largely 
immaterial. There were precedents: molf notably, the harassment of Anita Sarkeesian 
in 2012, following her series of videos to explain basic feminist concepts regarding pop 
culture by way of analyses of video games. In 2013, Zoe Quinn released Depression Quetf, 
an interactive fiction game that received much praise from critics and indie gaming circles, 
and a perfect target for the mob, or perhaps Deleuzean war-machine, that would later be 
called GamerGate. Quinn was threatened with rape, suicide-baited, and doxxed. Soon 
after the Steam release of Depression Quetf, Quinns ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni ported on 


17 



multiple gaming forums about Quinn, claiming that she cheated on him. The threads 
were deleted and he was banned, so he edited the poft and appealed to the people who 
had already harassed Quinn, and thus incited them to harass her more, compromising 
many of her online accounts and sending “revenge porn” to her family and employers. 
They attempted to isolate her by attacking any means of support she could turn to: for 
example, Phil Fish and Alex Lifschitz were targeted for their connections to Quinn, and 
Fish disappeared from the internet while Lifschitz was forced to resign his job; Quinn 
and Lifschitz’s addresses were revealed, and so they became homeless. Soon, the Gamer- 
Gaters found a justification by alleging that Quinn had a tryft with Nathan Grayson, a 
reviewer for Kotaku: they charged that Quinn had “sex for reviews”, despite the fadt that 
Grayson never reviewed Depression Quetf. Their tagline was “ethics in game journalism”, 
and they attempted to defied: from criticism by donating to charities: surely an organiza- 
tion that donated to womens rights charities couldn’t be based on harassment of women! 
Furthermore, they used catfishing and sockpuppet tadtics to claim that they were a di- 
verse group and that women, PoC and LGBT people were “not your shield”. Soon after 
this, GamerGate’s campaign spread beyond the original targets, attacking woman after 
woman: Brianna Wu, Felicia Day, Jennifer Allaway &c &c. Moot banned GamerGaters 
from 4chan: after loudly protesting a violation of “freedom of speech”, they soon set up 
shop in the even-more-lawless 8chan, specifically the /baphomet/ board. Soon, the neo- 
readtionaries noticed, and affiliated themselves with GamerGate: Theodore Beale (Vox 
Day), serial rapiSt Daryush Valizadeh (Roosh V)-who used it to launch Reaxxion, Davis 
Aurini, Paul Mason (thunderfoot), Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), Janet Bloomfield 
and Karen Straughan of A Voice for Men, Mike Cernovich, and Milo Yiannopoulos of 
Breitbart, among others. They began to pressure advertisers and Wikipedia, among oth- 
ers, and attempted to hijack the Hugo Awards through the Sad/Rabid Puppies campaign 
to have it choose “Campbellian” right-wing pulp-fidtion authors that Eric S. Raymond 
would be proud of. The latter campaign failed in 2.015: they’re attempting it again this 
year. While the “GamerGate” subjedt has largely faded, the war-machine it built has not: 
it has instead been assimilated into the reft of neo-readtion. 


In 2016, Moldbug was invited to speak at LambdaConf (a small conference for func- 
tional programming) about his new ftartup, Urbit. When his paft was brought up by 
concerned people of colour, the person who led the conference attempted to juftify includ- 
ing Moldbug in liberal language: people shouldn’t be “excluded for their belief syftems”, 
after all. White supremacy is San Francisco’s notion of “inclusion”. Many speakers with- 
drew (including David Nolen, a highly-respedted Clojure contributor and Black man), 
but the fundtional programming community as a whole began to employ all the ftandard 
liberal arguments about “free speech” and “censorship”. The Executive Diredtor of the 
Adam Smith Inftitute, a highly influential neoliberal (one of the largeft influences on the 
Thatcher cabinet, to be precise) think-tank has said that “I am not a neo-readtionary, but 
sometimes I think Mencius Moldbug is the greateft living political thinker. His claim that 
progressivism is a non-theiftic sedt of Proteftantism, with all of Proteftantism’s evangelism 
and intolerance of heresy, is in particular very persuasive to me. I also think ‘neocamaral- 
ism’ is quite a cool model for a ftate and I’d like to see it tried out somewhere.” 2 . In 2016, 

2 http://www. samuelbowman.com/where-my-beliefs-come-from/ 


18 



Microsoft released a chat-bot on Twitter called Tay which learned from its conversations 
and was meant to simulate a teenage girl. Within hours, the alt-right had “converted” Tay 
into a Nazi. 

With the rise of the alt-right came also an obsession with racialized cuckold pornog- 
raphy, and it hardly takes a schizoanalySt (or a psychoanalyst) to see the implications of 
this. This has accompanied the insult “cuck”, used to describe white men who do not 
subscribe to neo-readtion, and are thus seen as being “cuckolded” by black men. While 
this has largely been limited to alt-right discussion, one derived word became somewhat 
well-known a year or so ago: “cuckservative”, an alt-right insult for conservatives who are 
seen as insufficiently reactionary, and then quickly a Trumpite and Tea Party insult for the 
Republican Party establishment. We can see here not only the microfascisms of Deleuze 
and Guattari, but also the attempts of the neo-readtionaries and alt-right to connect to, 
and replace, the old Right (not the Old Right, but the New Right, which is by now Old). 
In order to contain the alt-right, we muSt Slop this. 

5 Praxis 

If fascism could be defeated in debate, I 
assure you that it would never have 
happened, neither in Germany, nor in 
Italy, nor anywhere else. Those who 
recognised its threat at the time and 
tried to Stop it were, I assume, also 
called “a mob”. Regrettably too many 
“fair-minded” people didn’t either try, 
or want to Stop it, and as I witnessed 
myself during the war, accommodated 
themselves when it took over.. .People 
who witnessed fascism at its height are 
dying out, but the ideology is Still here, 
and its apologists are working hard at a 
comeback. PaSt experience should 
teach use that fascism muSt be Stopped 
before it takes hold again of too many 
minds and becomes useful once again 
to some powerful interests 

Frank Frison 
Holocaust survivor 
12 December 1988 

Traditional anti-fasciSt tadtics have largely been formulated in response to 20th cen- 
tury fascism. I am not confident that they will be sufficient to defeat neo-readtionaries. 
That is not to say they will not be useful; merely insufficient. Neo-readtionaries muSt be 
fought on their own ground (the internet), and with their own tadtics: doxxing especially, 
which has been shown to be effedtive at threatening the alt-right. Information muSt be 
spread about neo-readtionaries, such that they lose opportunities to accumulate capital 


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and social capital. They mull not be able to use social media without having to answer for 
their beliefs and adtions. 


A recent development we muSt pay attention to is the increase in no-shows by fascists 
when antifas learn about fascist rallies. This is a trend I’ve noticed (though, one which 
perhaps I’m misinterpreting) over the paSt year, and could have the dangerous effedt of 
painting antifas as “the boy who cried wolf”, and the use of liberal arguments (much 
like those used in the LamdbaConf debacle) to justify the inclusion of fascists who are less 
open about the implications of their beliefs and less committed to wearing the iconography 
historically associated with their beliefs. 

References 

Benjamin, Walter (1936). "Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzier- 
barkeit". In: Zeitschrift fur Sozialforschung. 

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari (1972). Capitalisme et schizophrenic. L'anti-CEdipe. Les 
Editions de Minuit. 

H., Scott (2009). A Short Introduction to the MLM Conception of Fascism, url: https : 
//www . scribd . com/doc/76928242/0N-FASCISM-A-Marxist-Leninist- 
Maoist- Concept ion. 

Pein, Corey (2014). Mouthhreathing Machiavellis Dream of a Silicon Reich, url: http : 
//thebaf f ler . com/blog/mouthbreathing-machiavellis. 

Trotsky, Leon (1944). FASCISM: What it is and how to fight it. Pioneer Publishers, url: 
https : / / www . marxists . org / archive / trotsky / works / 1944 / 1944 - 
fas .htm. 


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